In my last article, Physical Attractions And Sexual Urges: 5 Things Parents Need to Teach Their Kids, I received a lot of comments requesting more detail. So, instead of ignoring that resounding rebuke, like a man, I’m going to take that one on the chin and inject my opinion about what parent should teach their kids.
Let me first prepare you: my approach is not conventional. It first deals with the parents, then the science behind physical attraction, then the strategies for how to deal with physical attraction and sexual urges. What you won’t get from me is my opinion on the age at which I think its okay for your son/daughter to have sex. I’m sorry…but that decision should be left up to the parents and child. But what you will get from me is my advice on how you can have that discussion…and others like it.
Your Past and Biases
Before you can teach you kids anything, you have to first deal with your own past and biases. It’s understandable…parents want to protect their children from making some of the same mistakes they made regarding relationships with the opposite sex. But guard yourself against diverting attention to how you handled similar situations in your past. That emphasis takes the focus off of them and redirects it to you and your past. Rather, be present in the moment with them. Focus on helping them figure out their situation.
As a parent, all the stuff you learned from your past has created a natural bias toward what you believe is right/wrong, good/bad, appropriate/inappropriate, acceptable/unacceptable. The compilation of those biases has created your value system. Stand on your values…do that. But don’t apply biases to your children just because your parents applied those same biases to you. What I mean is, just because your mom wouldn’t let you date until you were 17 doesn’t mean that your child can’t date till she’s 17. If your child is responsible enough to handle a group date at 16 with some kids you know and trust, then give her a chance to prove you raised her to be a responsible young lady.
The Science Behind Feelings of Attraction
Know that…you cannot control feelings. So don’t try. But you can control behavioral responses to those feelings. There is neurological and physiological science behind feelings of attraction. Simply put:
- Guy sees cute girl
- A tidal wave of happy feelings is sent throughout his brain
- His brain gives commands to specific parts of his body to respond to those happy feelings. For example, he smiles. His eyes get wide. His heart beats faster, which causes shortness of breath. Blood flows to specific parts of his body.
The same process happens to girls too. Her face turns red. She smiles and giggles (think of teen girls at a Justin Bieber concert). These feelings are the natural functioning of a maturing young boy or girl. And their physiological behavior is subconsciously automatic and physically uncontrollable. But at 13 – 16 years old, all they are intelligent enough to interpret is “I like her” or “He’s cute”. So when you approach your teen to talk about the opposite sex, they don’t know how to express their feelings yet, which makes everyone feel awkward. As adults, we have the luxury of experience to inform us about what our feelings mean…and how to respond to them. But teens are just trying to figure out all these new weird feelings…without embarrassing themselves.
What to Do With Feelings of Attraction and Sexual Urges…
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